French clinic offers new hope

A SURGE was today reported in the number of Suffolk patients crossing the English Channel for medical treatment at a private orthopaedic clinic. The Clinique Sainte Isabelle in Abbeville, northern France, currently has five patients from Ipswich and the surrounding area undergoing hip and knee replacements.

A SURGE was today reported in the number of Suffolk patients crossing the English Channel for medical treatment at a private orthopaedic clinic.

The Clinique Sainte Isabelle in Abbeville, northern France, currently has five patients from Ipswich and the surrounding area undergoing hip and knee replacements.

The patients have all paid English company People Logistics who transport them to the French hospital from their homes.

On Sunday it was revealed that record numbers of Britons are travelling abroad for medical treatment to escape the NHS - with 70,000 patients expected to fly out this year.

By the end of the decade, 200,000 health tourists will go abroad for major surgery according to a report by the Treatment Abroad website.

Among the Suffolk patients are 64-year-old Vicky Bingham, of Sudbourne, who said she is paying half the amount it would cost for private treatment in the UK.

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Mrs Bingham travelled for a hip replacement in February and is now returning for a knee operation.

She said: “In December I started to think of having a knee replacement on the NHS and there was an eight month delay. The cost of going private was £12-14,000 so as soon as my daughter found this on the internet, I booked there and then.

“I had to do something as I was in such pain I could hardly move.

“Having been once already, I know the nursing care if perfect, the wards are clean and I'll get a great service.

“However, I don't think it's right people have to do this to get a good service, but needs must.”

The hospital stays are two weeks long. The five Ipswich patients are all being treated within a week, around a quarter of People Logistics' weekly numbers.

The company said its clients are worried about dirty hospitals, waiting lists and poor service in the UK.

A spokesman said on average it had one person a month from the Ipswich area, and the sudden increase may be down to recent problems in the county's health service with infections and/or performance.

Would you travel abroad for healthcare? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk